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Mindful : August 2017
Michael Gervais, a sports psychologist who works with the Seattle Seahawks among other pros, knows that confidence is the key to success in any endeavor. “And it comes from just one place: what we say to ourselves,” he says. To be effective, how- ever, it must be “grounded in credible conversations with yourself,” he adds. This is where mindful- ness plays such an impor- tant role. Cultivating full presence in the moment helps you to not get caught up in your old stories about the past and letting them Watch What You Say It might seem contradictor y that to uncover natural con- fidence you shouldn’t be too attached to the idea of self- esteem. But the very idea of self-esteem is flawed, says psychologist and researcher Kristin Neff. First, it indicates feeling special or above average in some way. And that means measuring yourself against others—and determining that you’re better. “The quest to raise one’s esteem at the expense of others is a phenomenon that underlies many societal problems, such as prejudice, social inequality, and bullying,” she warns. Second, basing your self- worth on constant com- parison to others is simply impossible to maintain. Which means that it “rises and falls in step with our latest success or failure.” Meditation teacher and Headspace founder Andy Loosen Your Grip Puddicombe also suggests that the idea of self-esteem is really about overidenti- fication. On one end of the spectrum, someone may be “full of self-aggrandizing pride or arrogance,” based on factors that have little to do with their nature, he says. At the other end is someone with low self- worth, which is actually the denial of their nature. Through mindfulness, he says, we get the opportunity to loosen our grip on what- ever identity we’ve attached to and experience the con- fidence already within, or what he calls “the underly- ing nature of mind.” “ It’s not something that’s too empty, or too full,” Puddicombe says. And it is “inherently and uncon- ditionally loving, toward ourselves and others. It recognizes the so-called ‘good bits’ and ‘bad bits’ without judgment.” Whether a circumstance shakes your confidence or you harbor a nagging doubt about yourself, those feelings seem to come from the depths of your being. But through mindfulness, you’re able to touch some- thing even deeper: a trove of natural well-being, and yep, confidence. Meditation teachers and authors Ed and Deb Sha- piro write that the prac- tice “enables you to meet, greet, and make friends with yourself...to know who you really are, and to accept and embrace every part.” When you touch this truth, there’s an expansive Go Deep sense of welcoming kind- ness and compassion, for yourself and ever yone else. Science is finding some evidence of this. Two studies found that mindfulness not only increases confidence, but also increases life satisfac- tion, by making people more accepting toward themselves. “ Mindful- ness may be a useful way to address the underlying processes associated with low self-esteem, without temporarily bolstering positive views of oneself by focusing on achievement or other transient factors,” the researchers noted. color your expectations for the future. Instead, you’re right there with whatever is happening, starting anew. It’s also what develops awareness of your own baseline of confidence— and when you’re being pulled off track. “ Part of the training is being mindful, on a moment-to- moment basis, of whether you’re building or taking away from your confi- dence. The second part is being able to guide your- self back to the moment and adopt a positive mind- set about what is possible,” Gervais notes. 34 mindful August 2017 how to live a mindful life